Friday, May 31, 2013

A (Man's) Writer's Best Friend

It’s Friday, the last day in May so I thought I’d share a post that really doesn't have much to do with writing. In addition, as my first novel, Angelguard, has finally landed down under I thought I’d also take the opportunity to give 2 signed copies away to CWD members and friends. More of that later.

I grew up fearful of dogs. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, it appeared to me they didn’t like me much. Dogs, at school and in the neighbourhood, often attacked me. Yes, they smelled my fear.

The worst situation involved a big sheepdog charging out from behind a brush fence, tore off the rope leash restraining it to maul little ole me. A tetanus shot, blood-drawn bite marks on my chest and a ruined tee shirt summed up that particular episode.


I met Brandy as a pup. It took me a while to feel comfortable with her, in fact probably a year or so. Even though a pup, she was a jumpy one, as I learnt was common with many dogs.

As I gradually took on more responsibility for caring for her, plus the daily walks/runs, I began to understand why people could be effusive about dogs. My wife and I have this joke that she will gush over every dog that passes and I’ll fuss over every baby. Seriously, it’s like Fi has a special dog-tracking sensor. She’ll notice them from miles away. Pity I didn’t possess that talent in my youth as it may have prevented some of my scars.

But it was when I took a sabbatical to write Angelguard that my bond with Brandy began to increase. She would sit, well lie, by my side as I wrote each day. When it was time for lunch or for a walk she’d nuzzle up to my lap to remind me. She got used to those moments of exhilaration when I cracked what I thought was a good scene or the yells of frustration when the words were just not coming out.

Over the course of the next nine years that bond tightened and my love for her, well you know, gushed as a parent does for a child.

Sixth Sense

What amazes me about dogs is their willingness to serve and love selflessly. I still find it fascinating that “dog’” is an anagram of “god”. Did God give Adam a particular nudge when it was this animal’s turn to be named? Dogs possess a natural selflessness that we humans struggle to express.

Whether it’s comforting you when you’re not well, or being able to size up other dogs and humans on approach, I’m in awe of God’s creation. Many a day has passed when I wish I possessed their perceptiveness about others, human or dog.


Brandy was 15 and increasingly struggling with arthritis. Having consulted the vet who knew her well, we agreed it was time to let her go. Fiona and I were fortunate to have been able to determine the time and so our grieving commenced ahead of her passing.

On the day she passed I was struck how quickly it was all over. One minute, she was alive and happy. Sixty seconds later, she was gone. Life is simply a series of moments.


Meet Beanie-boo, our now six-month old x-kelpie something. She’s an absolute bundle of joy. As I write this post she is doing what Brandy did for all that time: lying peacefully by my side.

We’ve discovered the wonders of the dog park. Five minutes from home is a football oval converted into a fenced in dog park. Every afternoon before nightfall it is overtaken by large numbers of dogs of all shapes and sizes who meet up for their daily fun. Some owners take the time to do their own exercise, conduct business over the mobile, or simply catch up with fellow neighbours to talk everything canine.

This is community: people with a common interest mingling to share and care. We swap each other’s dogs name before we introduce ourselves. They may be an international footballer or a prominent businessperson but at the park that’s inconsequential. What binds us is a common love for … our dogs.


This post is long enough (sorry) so you can check out Angelguard on my website where you can view the trailer. I’ll give a signed copy to two contributors who share a little dog’s tale and express an interest in reading the novel. I'll advise the two winners by email on Wednesday 5 June.

Have lovely weekends.

Woof (that’s Beanie contribution).

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, was released recently in US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Hi Ian,
    Both dogs look lovely. I agree with you about great they can be for love and comfort, although we're a family with a fear of dogs in our past too.
    I was in Adelaide Koorong yesterday and saw a huge pile of Angelguard with the new releases near the counter, in a very prominent spot.
    Paula V

    1. Thanks for sharing Paula. I still get a little anxious when a large dog approaches at the dog park.

      I was in Koorong at West Ryde yesterday & got to see Angelguard on the shelves for the first time. I hope next time you're in the Adelaide store that pile might have shrunk some what.

      Bless, Ian

  2. Ian your book sounds really cool. Congratulations on its impending release.

    I was always surrounded by dogs growing up. My parents found an abandoned puppy just after Christmas before I was born. We grew up together. She lived to the age of 17 - very impressive for a dog.

    I know what you mean about dogs' empathy. As a teenager I had chicken pox. I remember sitting in the bath desperate for the itching to ease. My little dog sat outside the bathroom door the whole time. She knew I wasn't myself.

    My kids are pretty scared of dogs, although my daughter is getting over it. We tried having one for a while but it was not suitable for our family - grew up too big too quickly. It jumped all over the kids and just made them more scared. He needed to live on a big farm where he could run and play.

    1. Hi Adam, I imagine you had a special friendship with your family dog growing up.

      I hope your kiddies get to love dogs. It took me 40 years so there's lots of time for it for your littlies.

      Bless, Ian

  3. Hi Ian

    My mother tells the story that as a toddler I used to rush up to every dog I could see and give them a big hug. I loved dogs but mum had a few heart attacks. When I was 9 we were visiting a cattle station - the kids said come look at the puppies. The mother dog and pups were under the house. Being a bit older and a bit more cautious I stood back at little and the mother cattle dog streaked out from under the house and bit me on the abdomen - drawing blood (had the scar for decades). After that I had a fear for dogs. A year later we were in Africa and the next door neighbour's dog - a dombimin cross - chased me down the street. The neighour eventually rescued me. She said - He's actually rather friendly but with dogs if you run they'll chase you. I'm still a bit nervous around dogs I don't know but I did learn that day that running away isn't always the best solution. We soon got a pup fathered by that dog and he was a great friend to my brothers and I for the rest of the time we were in Africa. We loved our dog.

    Thanks for your dogs stories. Congratulations of publishing your book Angelguard. It does sound interesting and I would love to read it :)

    1. Jenny, I also learnt the hard way that running away from a very fast dog wasn't the solution. Great you got to enjoy a positive loving experience with your dog in Africa.

      Thanks for kind words too.

      Bless, Ian

  4. I've never been a dog person - and even owning one hasn't changed that. But at least I can see there is hope. LOL.

    I already have a copy of Angelguard, no need to include me in the draw. But everyone else here should read it! :)

  5. Thanks Amanda for the plug.

    When Brandy passed away last year, I wasn't too fussed about having another one. I didn't love all dogs (unlike babies), I just so enjoyed Brandy. Fi's such a dog lover though, and we're having a ball with Beanie-boo around. Dogs aren't for everyone, I was surprised that I could gush over a dog.

    Blessings to you, Ian

  6. Congratulations Ian, on the publication of your book and scary trailer. It's sounds like the stuff of Hollywood movies.

    A long time ago we used to have a Boxer Labrador cross, Brutus. But he was a real wus. He could clear our five foot fence and one day we heard cars hooting. Sure enough Brutus strolled down the middle of a busy street with no fear of being hit. The cars would have had a very big big dent if they had. Eventually we sent him to a country friend.

    1. Hi Rita, thanks for sharing your story of Brutus.

  7. Ian, I love my dog too. I call Noodle my canine son, and he appears in the biography section of every one of my books. Before we went to the shop to pick out our family pet, I asked God to give us the perfect dog for our family. He did exactly that. We celebrated Noodle's third (21st dog years) birthday this weekend. :)

  8. Your Brandy looks very like a kelpie cross we used to have and enjoyed over about 17 years.

  9. Oh Ian, I found that a little hard to read! I am so close to my puppy Boaz and hate the thought of losing my companion but what a lovely story.

    I was bitten by a Corgi when I was a child and nearly lost an eye. I still have the scare which has moved across my face but fortunately it didn't make me fearful. I was so upset when the dog was put down. Dogs can be incredible companions.